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Old 10-30-2020, 06:50 PM   #1
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Towing with a 2021 Mercedes GLE 53 SUV Coupe

I own a 2021 Mercedes AMG GLE 53 SUV Coupe with the factory installed tow package, auto-leveling and more technology than I understand. But I did notice that once connecting the 7-pin cord all sorts of messages popped up on the dash screen declaring that certain handling characteristics had been changed to accommodate the new load.

So for the last two weeks I have been towing a 2021 23FB International from where I picked it up in Buda, Texas, the long way home to So Cal via Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. I tried to follow Andy from Canam recommendation to install an Eaz-Lift first but unfortunately the selling dealership would only install one brand, a Fastway E-2, with no sway bar. Not in the mood to hang around and look for an Eaz-Lift I hit the road right away hoping things would work out.

So far, so good in climbing up and down some very long, mountainous, high-altitude passes throughout Colorado without incident. Even Rocky Mountain National Park could not slow the acceleration although only a fool would hurry through there. With an abundance of horsepower from the twin-turbo, electric booster motor, (550HP) acceleration was never an issue. The car is a real high-torque rocket with powerful brakes to match. The German engineers state there is a 7,700 tow capacity and 760 tongue weight limit. My AS has a GVWR of 6,000 and hitch weight of 439.

Mercedes recommends to err on the side of heavier weight on the tongue as close as possible to their stated max. My AS FB model has a lighter hitch weight (439) than other FB23s (664) with rear bed configurations so my concern was maybe not enough tongue weight? Either way the trailer towed well and with all of the instant-auto-corrections I could barely feel it behind me. The dealership mechanic measured the trailer level with a quarter inch lower in the front and set everything up from there.

All went well until about two hundred miles before Flagstaff on I-40 when extremely high-winds caused enough brief jolts of sway to lower my speed to 40mph. At that time I must admit I began to question the effectiveness of my choice of TV and WD hitch. But the following day I heard reports of five different semi's blowing over, with many more choosing not to continue on the same stretch that I just passed through. So now the question is did the advanced technology of the car and aerodynamics of the AS save the day?

In Arizona I scored a DOT weight ticket that I don't understand but assume guys far smarter than me can interpret.
Thanks in advance for your help and advice.
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Old 10-30-2020, 07:35 PM   #2
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Newbie here

BTW I am new to RVing but not adventure travel. I spent five years riding a motorcycle around the world through 57 developing countries while living in a one-man tent. Check the madness @ www.strikingviking.net
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Old 10-31-2020, 08:11 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by viking1 View Post
BTW I am new to RVing but not adventure travel. I spent five years riding a motorcycle around the world through 57 developing countries while living in a one-man tent. Check the madness @ www.strikingviking.net
I remember you from ADVRider! I can't answer your questions but look forward to your new AS adventures.
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Old 10-31-2020, 08:12 AM   #4
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Get yourself a proper hitch with sway control and it will be even better.
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Old 10-31-2020, 08:26 AM   #5
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Congrats on your new Airstream!

I’d guess that your tongue weight is quite a bit more than 439 lbs., especially with the trailer loaded and carrying fresh water. You’d have to weigh it to be certain, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was closer to 600 lbs.

Hopefully you can get a hitch setup that will help with wind. I tow the same trailer with a GMC Denali 1500, and I’ve towed it in extreme wind conditions before. I haven’t experienced anything close to sway in windy conditions, even at 60 mph.
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Old 10-31-2020, 10:25 AM   #6
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I think what saved you is that you slowed down to 40 mph.
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Old 10-31-2020, 11:23 AM   #7
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Just followed you on the Gram.
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Old 10-31-2020, 11:30 AM   #8
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Put an anti sway on it
Winds that flip transports don’t necessarily say your set up is faulty
JCW
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Old 10-31-2020, 11:34 AM   #9
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Just guessing, but I suspect the DOT ticket reports, in order, the weight on each axle of
1] front axle of the tow vehicle,
2] rear axle of the tow vehicle,
Then their combined weight
3] front axle of trailer,
4] rear axle of the trailer.
Then their combined weight
Your tow vehicle has a dry weight of roughly 5,300 lbs, so loaded, the TV weight was 6,100 lbs, ditto the trailer's total loaded weight of 5600 lbs, with the balance, by far, on the front axle of the trailer. The trailer weighs 4,800 lbs by itself so you had a 800 lb load in it (well below its 1,200 lb limit.
No?
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Old 10-31-2020, 12:57 PM   #10
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I think you will be pleasantly surprised by what a good anti-sway hitch will do. The down side will be: you might not have slowed down to 40 if you'd had the anti sway (which is possibly a decision that saved your life). I used a Hensley for a while, and there were times on the highway I'd forget I was towing when I went to pass a slower vehicle. Many other times I'd see semis weaving all over the place and I couldn't feel a thing (and I've got a *tiny* tow vehicle). I stopped using a Hensley for a lot of reasons I won't go into here (there are plenty of other threads for Hensley bashing), but I will say that "anti sway" isn't hype, and makes for a much more enjoyable towing experience.
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Old 10-31-2020, 03:03 PM   #11
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I have towed my Airstream 25 with two different trucks using sway-control hitches and my current Mercedes ML350 Bluetec. I have towed the Airstream for over 100,000 miles, including about 34,000 with the ML350. It is my 5th trailer since 1957.

When I first got the Mercedes, my sway-control hitch caused some erratic behavior, so I contacted Blue-Ox and the tech advised me to turn off my automatic stabilization on the MB. He said on-board sway control systems are generally incompatible with sway-control hitches.

After more research, I decided that turning off the MB stabilization system was bad advice. I changed to a standard load-distribution hitch and was very pleased.
In over 30,000 miles towing by the ML350 with no sway-control hitch, I have had only one sudden and strong correction during a burst of wind in west Texas. The MB handled it OK, even though it was disturbing.
No sway-control system is perfect, but I am pleased with mine.
Jack in Naples
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Old 10-31-2020, 06:30 PM   #12
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The Blue Ox Uses geometry to apply a corrective force using the differentiated tension bar lengths. It is not linear and not proportional so it is not completely in accordance to the assumptions worked into the asymmetrical braking algorithms in the traction control programming. they still work together, just a bit off kilter. The active system will save you from a catastrophic event. The Blue Ox will prevent them from starting. I would recommend going back to the Blue Ox or better switch to a system that provides constant damping.
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Old 10-31-2020, 10:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis C View Post
Congrats on your new Airstream!

Iíd guess that your tongue weight is quite a bit more than 439 lbs., especially with the trailer loaded and carrying fresh water. Youíd have to weigh it to be certain, but it wouldnít surprise me if it was closer to 600 lbs.

Hopefully you can get a hitch setup that will help with wind. I tow the same trailer with a GMC Denali 1500, and Iíve towed it in extreme wind conditions before. I havenít experienced anything close to sway in windy conditions, even at 60 mph.
What is the best way to weigh the tongue?
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Old 10-31-2020, 10:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JCWDCW View Post
Put an anti sway on it
Winds that flip transports donít necessarily say your set up is faulty
JCW
So you think just adding a sway bar to my Fastway E-2 would be sufficient?
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Old 10-31-2020, 10:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitcat7 View Post
Just guessing, but I suspect the DOT ticket reports, in order, the weight on each axle of
1] front axle of the tow vehicle,
2] rear axle of the tow vehicle,
Then their combined weight
3] front axle of trailer,
4] rear axle of the trailer.
Then their combined weight
Your tow vehicle has a dry weight of roughly 5,300 lbs, so loaded, the TV weight was 6,100 lbs, ditto the trailer's total loaded weight of 5600 lbs, with the balance, by far, on the front axle of the trailer. The trailer weighs 4,800 lbs by itself so you had a 800 lb load in it (well below its 1,200 lb limit.
No?
That is the way it appears to me. I read somewhere that the perfect setup is to have the total weight distributed evenly over all four axles. That is if the total weight of TV and trailer is 12,000lbs to have 3,000 lbs over each axle. Is this correct?
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Old 10-31-2020, 10:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLAbne View Post
I have towed my Airstream 25 with two different trucks using sway-control hitches and my current Mercedes ML350 Bluetec. I have towed the Airstream for over 100,000 miles, including about 34,000 with the ML350. It is my 5th trailer since 1957.

When I first got the Mercedes, my sway-control hitch caused some erratic behavior, so I contacted Blue-Ox and the tech advised me to turn off my automatic stabilization on the MB. He said on-board sway control systems are generally incompatible with sway-control hitches.

After more research, I decided that turning off the MB stabilization system was bad advice. I changed to a standard load-distribution hitch and was very pleased.
In over 30,000 miles towing by the ML350 with no sway-control hitch, I have had only one sudden and strong correction during a burst of wind in west Texas. The MB handled it OK, even though it was disturbing.
No sway-control system is perfect, but I am pleased with mine.
Jack in Naples

I suspect that if it was a good idea to turn off the the MB stabilization system when hauling a trailer the German engineers would advise to do so. So what kind of hitch works best for you?
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Old 10-31-2020, 10:20 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Dennis C View Post
Congrats on your new Airstream!

Iíd guess that your tongue weight is quite a bit more than 439 lbs., especially with the trailer loaded and carrying fresh water. Youíd have to weigh it to be certain, but it wouldnít surprise me if it was closer to 600 lbs.

Hopefully you can get a hitch setup that will help with wind. I tow the same trailer with a GMC Denali 1500, and Iíve towed it in extreme wind conditions before. I havenít experienced anything close to sway in windy conditions, even at 60 mph.
What is the best way to determine tongue weight?
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Old 10-31-2020, 11:03 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by viking1 View Post
What is the best way to determine tongue weight?


Sherline scale under the trailer tongue...with the trailer level as possible.
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Old 11-01-2020, 12:04 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by rmkrum View Post
Sherline scale under the trailer tongue...with the trailer level as possible.
+1

Sherline or you can have it weighed at a weigh station.
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Old 11-01-2020, 06:10 AM   #20
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My 10 dollar bathroom scale and a 2x4 is accurate enough but the Sherline scales are pretty neat.
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